The party of Azerbaijan’s leader Ilham Aliyev says it is certain it has won a parliamentary election, rejecting accusations of fraud.
The opposition has cried foul, saying the poll was a stage-managed charade in favour of the president. But allegations of multiple voting and ballot stuffing have been dismissed, with the ruling party insisting the vote was free and fair.
Rights groups accuse President Aliyev of curbing democratic freedoms. But he is cushioned against Western criticism by the former Soviet republic’s strategic importance as an oil and gas exporter and a transit route for the US military in Afghanistan.
Ilham Aliyev has steadily consolidated his grip on power since succeeding his father, long-serving leader Heydar Aliyev, in 2003.